Thursday, March 24, 2011

Encaustic Painting: Missing Monarchs

"Missing Monarchs"
23” x 34” encaustic (beeswax) on wood

This painting was inspired by Milkweed blooming in my garden next to my outdoor studio. I often see Monarchs flutter past me while I paint. I have a lot of butterflies, so I was surprised to learn that in 2002, 270 million Monarch butterflies died due to freezing temperatures while they were wintering in Mexico.

A Boca Raton organization established in 1993 by Chris Singer, Live Monarch Foundation, offers Milkweed seeds for free in order to restore their habitat loss across North America. The Monarch butterflies migrate from the eastern seaboard to the mountains of central Mexico up to Canada and sometimes the butterflies do not survive due to weather, food and human encroachment.

Please consider planting Milkweed in your garden or in a pot on your patio. Each adult Monarch butterfly needs more than one plant to survive. Milkweed is native to Florida, so it will survive happily in your garden.

I have found that children learn to love the environment and its tiny creatures by participating. It's pretty easy to put a few seeds in your garden. I am sure everyone will love watching the Milkweeds grow and to see the Monarch's cycle from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly all in your own backyard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Springtime: Miami Style

Without looking at a calendar, I know it's spring when the Tabebuia Trees burst in bloom into brilliant color. They are usually right on time and in full bloom for March 21st arrival.

Many Tabebuia trees line the streets of Miami without a notice all year long. They blend into the landscape with their grey wooded trunks and light sage leaves that barely cover the branches. When spring arrives they scream for attention! Bursting all at once in bright lemon yellow. Some of the Tabebuia trees are pink, but very few and the pink is a light soft shade.

I have two Tabebuia trees in my garden, one pink and one yellow. The yellow one blew down in a hurricane a few years back, but I had it propped back up and luckily it survived. The yellow Tabebuia is in my butterfly garden right next to my outdoor studio where I work in encaustics (beeswax and Damar resin).

Above are the steps that lead to my outdoor studio. The Tabebuias bloom as fast as they drop their blooms so, the blossoms create a magnificent carpet of flowers.

Behind my studio, is a street where people pass by.

My butterfly garden is slowing growing. To the right is a butterfly ginger that hates the cold but, hopefully it will regrow soon.

Lastly, here is my encaustic studio space where I look out into my garden as I work. I am so inspired by the nature that surrounds me. Spring is here and a perfect time to paint outside. I will be posting some of the painting I am creating in encaustics soon. It's not hard to guess that they are filled with images from my garden.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A New Green for St. Patrick's Day

Last night, instead of the usual green beer and corn beef and cabbage. I convinced my husband (who is not a vegetarian) to join me in a new, very green St. Patrick's Day celebration. We went to the Sacred Space in Wynwood to eat raw vegan food at this month's Conscious Bite Out.

The Conscious Bite Out is a monthly vegetarian dinner party organized by two women, Marcela Andron and Veronica Menin both cooks and holistic health counselors.

Upon arrival, I thought there was a security check because there was a line formed behind one quest with their arms spread out straight while a woman waved what looked like hand metal detector over them. Thankfully, I was wrong. It wasn't a metal detector; it was a smoking, lit sage wrap to eliminate negative energy from all who entered.

Once we stepped inside, we were treated to yummy guacamole, seeds, nuts and Veev Acal Eco Mojitos in the gallery space. After the sage ritual, I thought the space inside would be relaxing and organic looking but, instead the music was turned up and the surfaces were slick and shiny. This space would have been perfect used as an art exhibit for guests to move, mix and mingle looking at art while drinking wine and Mojitos before dinner. However, there was one eco-sculpture on the floor made of newspaper bundles bound in thick twine. Otherwise, the entire space was bright white flooded with very tall, beautiful, young women in six inch heels and short pretty dresses.

After Eco Mojitos, we were invited to sit at the communal dinning table. The table was spectacular! The table had to seat at least 70 people. I love the idea of sitting everyone together, however I wish the table was about 12" narrower because it was too wide to talk easily to the people sitting across from us. We met so many interesting people there that cared about the environment and cared about the type of food that we were eating that we had a lot to talk about.

Instead of just one chef cooking our dinner, we were treated to three. The dinner began with my favorite dish of the eventing. Chef John Schott from Lifefood Gourmet made the most amazing raw vegan taco as an appetizer. Then, he made a spinach soup that was delicious as well.

Next, Chef Jonathan Gambino demonstrated how to cut a coconut and served us coconut rice and mushrooms with grape tomatoes.

The final Chef, Lisa Valle from Green Wave demonstrated how to make raw vegan blueberry pie. She explained how blueberries have a natural pectin in them so they work very well as a thickening agent.

For dessert, we were served the most amazing raw vegan dessert I have ever tasted. This dessert could be served at any dinner party without anyone realizing it was good for you. Chef Valle created a crepe out of coco, agave and coconut oil which she filled with a creamy mix of blended nuts that looked and tasted like cream topped with mint leaves, delicious! She also served the blueberry pie that she demonstrated. Unfortunately, we missed tasting because we had to return home to our youngest son who wasn't feeling well.

It was a wonderful event that I highly recommend. I hope to return soon and see what they cook up next.

Cheers to a NEW GREEN celebration for St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Space for a Peacock?

A year ago, I participated in the Peacock Tour by painting a five foot peacock for my sponsor The Fresh Market in Coconut Grove, Florida. Using upcycled pie pans that were embossed and attached to the sculpture, I subtly included an environmental component. Many people who I had the opportunity to talk to had no idea, when they looked at the embossed attachments, that they were looking at something most people throw away or toss in the recycle bin.

When I began the Peacock Project, I had the intent to give back to the community in a way that I could through my art. Now after many months of being displayed in front of The Fresh Market, my peacock will continue to give to the community by benefiting Shake-A-Leg through its sale at this week's Auction Gala Wednesday, March 16 at Paragon Theatre 13 at 6:00pm.

Twenty-three other peacocks will be auctioned off by other local artists including Sauma, Lebo, Dan Bondroff, Pablo Cano, Ed King, Eileen Seitz, Fred Hunt, Britto, Meme Ferre and many more. Each peacock has a different charity that the funds from the sales will benefit which include: The Miami Heat Foundation, Casa Valentina, Coconut Grove Woman’s Club, and Boys and Girls Club of Miami.

I hope that you will join me this Wednesday night to celebrate a successful art in public places event spearheaded by Heather Bettner of Prince Media Development that not only gave life and creativity to Coconut Grove, but gave us a chance to pause and smile.

Tickets are $50 with opportunities to win hotel stays, spa packages and gift certificates to local restaurants. Seating is limited, but are still available at the Paragon Theatre box office or online at

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Everglades: where I go to recharge and refuel...

Last weekend I camped in the Everglades and woke up early Sunday morning to watch the sunrise over the alligator holes on Anhinga Trail. It was a perfectly tranquil morning. Alligators were lurking, quietly searching for food while black vultures soared so close above my head I could hear the wind lightly howl as the vultures flew past. It was amazing! I had never felt or heard that before.

The bromeliads were in bloom! As I walked around the corner with the sun behind me I saw this amazing Great Blue Heron on top of all the blooming bromeliads. The sun was rising behind me and lit the Heron in a warm glow of light. No photograph could ever capture what I really saw, nor could I paint the expression of complete peace and harmony.

Anhinga are plentiful on the trail and this anhinga allowed me to get about a foot away to take his photo.

When I returned, I tried to keep the same calmness with me that I felt in the Everglades as I painted. My new paintings (that I will post soon) are all in encaustics and are about the nature that surrounds me everyday.